Inge struck out three times, making him Detroit's career leader, but also drove in the winning run in the 13th inning as the Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 11-10.
The surprising loss -- Minnesota blew leads of 5-0 and 10-7 -- damaged the Twins' chances of earning home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.
The AL Central champions, who lost 10-1 to the Tigers on Friday, fell a game behind Tampa Bay in the race for the best record in the American League. The Rays, with a soft schedule the rest of the way, lead the AL East by 1 1/2 games over the New York Yankees.
"We certainly didn't expect to lose that game," said Danny Valencia, who hit a first-inning grand slam. "Give them credit, they kept coming back even when we got ahead again. It was like they wanted it more than we did."
With the bases loaded in the 13th and one out, Inge lined a single to right field to bring home Miguel Cabrera and finally end the game after 4 hours, 19 minutes.
"I hadn't been feeling so well at the plate -- I'm struggling a little -- but I always remember being preached to that it is the last at-bat that counts," Inge said.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he doesn't mind Inge's strikeouts, given his other offensive skills and stellar defense at third base.
"When you manage a player, you have to be willing to accept what comes with each one," Leyland said. "Some guys are going to strike out, but he's a hell of a player. He made two or three unbelievable plays at third base tonight, and that was a perfect piece of hitting to win the game."
"That's a play I just have to make," Valencia said. "It was great to help offensively, but we still have to make defensive plays."
Daniel Schlereth (1-0) earned his first AL win after pitching out of jams in the 12th and 13th innings.
"That was pretty cool," Schlereth said. "I was just trying to attack guys and get outs."
In addition to Justin Morneau (concussion) and Joe Mauer (knee), Minnesota played without manager Ron Gardenhire in the dugout. Gardenhire was hit in the right ear by a thrown ball during batting practice, and although he was not seriously injured, he spent the game in the clubhouse.
Scott Ullger managed the game, but Gardenhire said he expects to be back for Sunday's series finale.
"This hasn't been a lot of fun, but it happens some of the time -- you get hit," Gardenhire said. "There's a lot of pain, but I should be OK for tomorrow."
After Jason Kubel provided the game's first run with an RBI single, Valencia cleared the left-field bullpens with his second career grand slam.
Detroit got single runs in the first and second, then hit three homers off Pavano in a five-run fourth. Alex Avila started the surge with a solo shot, followed by two-run drives from Don Kelly and Cabrera.
"Carl was just missing with all of his pitches," Ullger said. "That was a crazy game -- you don't expect to score 10 runs in the first five innings and then lose in 13."
Minnesota quickly tied it. Kubel and Valencia opened the fifth with homers, chasing Bonderman from what could have been his last home start with the Tigers.
Eddie Bonine didn't fare much better in relief, allowing the Twins to score three more times in the fifth to take a 10-7 lead.
Glen Perkins replaced Pavano for the fifth and became the fourth straight pitcher to struggle. He got only two outs before being pulled after allowing sacrifice flies to Austin Jackson and Ryan Raburn.
Raburn's RBI single tied it at 10 in the seventh.
The Twins got a runner to third in the 12th, but Schlereth struck out Jose Morales to end the inning. Schlereth then pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 13th by striking out Kubel and Valencia.
Inge also played a role in that part of the game, as the ex-catcher saw a flaw in Schlereth's delivery.
"Right before the last strike to Valencia, Brandon told me that my body was rushing and my arm was dragging a bit," Schlereth said. "It's unbelievable that he noticed that, but I slowed down and got the strikeout."
Jason Repko left the game after being hit in the right thumb by a pitch from Bonine. X-rays were negative and Repko is day to day. ... Inge has struck out 1,101 times in his career, breaking Lou Whitaker's franchise record of 1,099. Inge, a free agent after the season, has played more than 1,000 fewer games than Whitaker. ... Both benches were warned after Perkins hit Inge with a pitch to start the fifth inning -- the third hit batter of the game. ... The teams combined to use 41 players.